Letter to the Editor: Student action is integral to investigating the ASU economics allegations

Alex Baker urges students to use their voices and make long-term solutions possible

Like you, I’m quite shocked and concerned at the allegations that came out about ASU’s Economics Department. I’m a Carey student myself and have had these courses. While I can’t speak to the validity of the “forced-fail” and grant bribery claims, I know I’ve had to spend a lot to get online access codes to submit homework, both in business and non-business classes. 

I know people like me are angry, and I don’t want it to be wasted. It’s relatively simple getting the administration involved when someone else is at fault. But when University administration themselves are seen as wrongdoers, you need to know where else to go.

1. Use your organized student voices

Undergraduate Student Government at ASU sometimes gets ribbed on for being paper-weak. Despite the limitations placed on its powers and funding (a story for another day), it is still unambiguously the only way students can present a united voice about an issue. 

And that’s still an important ability: after Undergraduate Student Government Tempe voted to support the expulsion of Tempe Councilman Kolby Granville, articles went from discussing it as a relatively contentious, split affair to one overwhelmingly in favor of removal, with students tipping the balance. And I know council members who will attest to USGT's vote being the nail in the coffin.

Vocalize your thoughts on bills USGT will be hearing — one calling for an independent investigation into allegations and a university board to approve or deny any extra electronic access codes in future classes (whether Cengage or PearsonMyLab/Wiley), and a similar one calling for Goegan’s reinstatement. 

Make sure USGT is hearing your thoughts.

2. Use your individual student voices

Keep on emailing and complaining individually. 

While ASU President Michael Crow would seem a sensible choice to pester, he doesn’t hold all the cards here. Keep bugging Dean Hillman and Provost Searle over email, asking for answers. Write to the Arizona Board of Regents asking them to launch an external investigation into the forced-fails and reform use of external/secondary homework submissions systems by universities. 

They’re the body that’s supposed to step in in situations like these, but you need to at least call for help first.

3. Push for longer-term solutions at the Legislature

If you have siblings who attend another university, you’ve probably heard from them that they also have Cengage-eseque systems at their school. 

These companies have a national reach, and therefore curtailing them requires large-scale solutions. So don’t just leave it at the provost and ABOR – email your state legislators (click here to find out who they are) – regardless of their party or distance from ASU. 

Ask them to, “push legislation limiting how much classes can spend on external, pay-to-submit homework systems (like Cengage, Pearson MyLab and Wiley) to save students and taxpayers money, and to mandate schools offer similar, clearly-denoted classes without the added access code financial burden." 

And keep messaging them in the fall and into next year’s spring asking for progress. Once a bill is written, get in touch with legislators asking for assistance in testifying in support of the bill. If you’re out of state, message your home state’s legislators. Put effort into democracy and you will see results.

I know emotions are running high, and it’s important to know how to channel your feelings. Most importantly, strike now, while people care. Summer is coming, and the sad fact is that many people will forget about this by August. 

You can be one who doesn’t.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this letter to the editor are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. This letter to the editor was submitted by Alex Baker, an ASU senior majoring in business data analytics. He also currently serves as USGT's Vice President of Policy.

Reach the authors at aabaker1@asu.edu.

Want to join the conversation? Send an email to opiniondesk.statepress@gmail.com. Keep letters under 500 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.

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